Chakravarthy (1987)


Charavarthy starts off with a standard storyline where there are the customary good-hearted villagers living under the tyranny of a wicked village president and his sleazy side-kick.  Chiranjeevi is the rather rough and ready villager with a heart of gold who stands up to the president and fights against the various injustices he sees in the village.  So far so good, (although rather routine and not too exciting).

But then, suddenly, there is this:

Definitely well worth the Rs35 I paid for the VCD!  Sadly the rest of the film doesn’t quite live up to the expectations generated by watching Chiru dance in gold lame and black pleather, but there are still plenty of good songs, plus Chiru in a variety of dapper suits and bow ties – so I’m definitely calling it a good buy.

Chiranjeevi is Anji, a simple man who lives in the village and helps the local Swamiji (Somayajulu J.V.) look after a number of orphans.  Swamiji runs a school at his ashram where the orphans also live, but it’s under threat from the village president (Satyanarayana Kaikala) who wants the land for himself.  The president threatens and blusters, but Anji isn’t going to let anyone bully the gentle Swamiji and when the president’s thugs turn up at the school to throw the kids out (literally!), Anji makes sure that they are the ones forced to leave.


Anji is also intent on making the best match for his sister, who is back in the village after completing her studies.  The scene where Anji meets up with her again is brilliant, although I’m not sure why he should be so shy and bashful on meeting his own sister.  Maybe it’s just because his clothes are several sizes too small, but at least he’s made the effort to dress up for the occasion.


Despite the self-conscious nature of their meeting, Anji is soon trying to get Lakshmi (Ramya Krishnan) to marry his best mate, and the local police sergeant, Mohan (Mohan Babu).  Mohan Babu hams it up nicely for the camera here and does his best to be the overall good guy in the film, with mixed success.  Still it’s probably only natural that Lakshmi prefers her rich former class mate who has plenty of style, even if it is all wasted posing on the golf course.


Anji is doing his own fair share of romancing, as he chases after the feisty Rani (Bhanupriya).  Although the two seem to spend most of their time arguing or at the very least teasing each other,there are some night-time shenanigans which result in this great song.

Bhanupriya is lovely here and she just sparkles in the scenes with Chiranjeevi.  They both frequently look as if they are about to crack up laughing at each other and the camaraderie between them ensures some great chemistry as they veer between fighting and making up, usually both at the same time.


However the president has more evil plans afoot and Anji ends up losing an eye as he saves the ashram yet again, leaving him with an eye patch and a generally bad attitude.  He picks a fight with Lakshmi’s rich suitor (Sudhakar) who is later found dead, sparking a hunt for the murderer.  Since the fight with Anji was seen by everyone on the golf course, Anji is the obvious suspect, and Mohan is the man charged with bringing his friend to justice.    There is much drama and scenery chewing as Mohan and Anji head for a show-down while Rani and Swamiji try to deal with the fall-out.  The president’s servant is played by a young Brahmi, and he provides a large proportion of the comedy, along with Allu Ramalingayya as Rani’s quack doctor father.  It’s worth keeping an eye on the various support actors in the background too, as below where the servant who brings the president his drink, totally unnoticed, helps himself to a glass as well.


That brings us to the re-incarnation of Anji as Chakravarthy, the famous disco dancer, who returns to his village presumably to clear his name and sort out the village president once and for all. And if he’s lucky hook up with Rani again too.

Chakravarthy is as far removed from Anji as it is possible to be.  He is suave and sophisticated, dresses in smart suits and talks in English as he schmoozes the villagers.  Mohan suspects Chakravarthy may be Anji, possibly due to the uncanny resemblance between the two, but is thrown off when Chakravarthy demonstrates that he has full use of his left eye.  It’s a conundrum!

ChakravarthyChakravarthyChakravarthyChakravarthyI’m not sure if the two functioning eyes is ever explained, but it doesn’t really matter since there are more fights, more drama and suspicious looks exchanged before the final big showdown to grab our attention.  There are also more of K. Chakravarthy’s excellent songs.  I couldn’t decide which to add in here, but decided to go with this as Bhanupriya gets to wear much more tasteful outfits than in a few of the others.   Needless to say, Chiranjeevi looks perfectly styled in every one!

Although the film is overall a fairly standard masala flick, director Ravi Raja Pinisetty has added a few touches that bring originality into the mix.  Since he later directed one of my favourite Chiru films, Yamudiki Mogudu, I was a little disappointed that he kept the flamboyance to a minimum in Chakravarthy, apart from disco dancer Chakrvarthy’s introduction number.  But the more restrained costumes and comedy suit the overall style of the film.  What I do like are the different dynamics in Anji’s relationships with his mentor, his lover and his best friend.  The sudden shift when he reappears as Chakravarthy is also well envisaged, although I really did miss the subtitles that might have explained where he got all of his sudden sophistication.  And the eye fixed up!  Chakravarthy is definitely worth a watch for the chemistry between Chiranjeevi and Bhanupriya and for the concept of a disco dancer being the only person able to save the day! 3 ½ stars.



Just to whet everyone’s appetite for the Mega Birthday celebrations and get the party started, Vijetha is  more than just another cheesy masala film from the eighties. In reading about this film on imdb I discovered that Vijetha was just one of the eight films Chiranjeevi released in 1985. I think that this is an amazing number of film releases, but more so when you consider he had even more films released the preceding year, and just as many the following year. Thankfully this means that there are just so many more Chiru films to watch!

Chiranjeevi won his third Filmfare award for his performance in Vijetha and it’s a departure from his more usual action film. In fact, the movie opens with a message from Chiranjeevi to his fans explaining that the story is about a ‘boy next door’ character rather than an action hero, and it makes a great introduction to the story.

Vijetha tells the story of Madhusudhan Rao (Chiranjeevi), commonly known as Chinnababu, and his rather close-knit, but at times acrimonious family. With the death of his close friend, Chinnababu’s father Narasimham (Somayajulu J. V.) realises that the squabbling which occurs at the funeral may also happen at his own death. He decides to try to finalise the marriage of his youngest daughter Lakshmi as soon as possible, and to that end arranges a marriage with Sri Rangarao’s son Mohan, a doctor in Chicago. Mohan is planning to marry quickly and head back to the USA and it seems like an ideal match for Lakshmi considering her father’s wishes. The problem however, is that Narasimham cannot afford the required dowry, and so he appeals to his sons for help. But apart from his eldest son’s wife Saraswathi, the others are all disinclined to give any money for a marriage which they don’t see as being as important to them as their own comforts. There is much talk of duty and responsibilities but in the end Narasimham sees no other choice but to sell the family home. Finally after various attempts by the brothers to get the house for themselves, Chinnababu manages to save the day by taking a rather unusual and fairly drastic step to get the required funds and ensures his sister’s marriage goes ahead.

The film feels more like a modern-day soap-opera at times as it focuses on the interactions between the different family members and day-to-day life. Chinnababu is a student and aspiring football star, although his father despairs of him ever getting a job as he prefers playing his sport to studying. His eldest brother’s wife Saraswathi has practically raised both Chinnababu and his sister Lakshmi, and she keeps the peace between father and son. Although he’s perhaps a little deficient in studying, in other ways Chinnababu is a dutiful son – running errands for the other members of the family and supporting his father as much as possible.

Chiranjeevi does an excellent job of capturing the good-hearted if slightly naïve character of Chinnababu and does manage to portray a more normal slice of life rather than his more usual ‘over the top’ heroics. Although we do get some of those as well when Chinnababu comes to the rescue of Priyadarshini and her friends when they are harassed by some youths, and later on when a gang of thugs attempt to rob him. Bhanupriya plays the love interest Priyadarshini and in another departure from the norm, she stalks Chinnababu rather than the other way around. She lies in wait for him, goes to his football practice and is generally irritating in her shrill and persistent attempts to get his notice. In fact Priyadarshini’s character is incredibly annoying in the first part of the film, and the first time I actually liked her was when she encouraged Chinnababu to play football with the thugs (using them as the football) rather than trying to negotiate with them. Chinnababu initially has little time for her and seems appalled when she moves in to the neighbourhood.  However it turns out that a song with some strategically placed cutouts and a large number of cushions is the way to his heart – who knew it would be that simple?

After this, Chinnababu seems to be resigned to his fate (maybe it was the gold pants that did it) and Priyadarshini becomes much more tolerable once she finally has Chinnababu’s attention. Bhanupriya is lovely despite some of her very questionable outfits, and she can at least match Chiranjeevi’s dancing. She must have really annoyed someone in wardrobe though as she has a particularly bad selection of wigs to wear too!

Sharada plays the eldest wife Saraswathi with real grace and poise. Her character works very well as the peacekeeper in the family and her level headedness is very much needed as everyone gangs up on Chinnababu as the only non-worker in the family. There is a classic moment early on in the film where Chinnababu uses her sari to wipe his mouth, and it just goes to show how much she thinks of him as she doesn’t react at all! I also love the set dressing in the film which adds to the ‘family at home’ atmosphere. There are plenty of ornaments, great pictures on the walls and even a medical model later in the film.  I would love to know what the brown and green ornaments behind the couple here are supposed to represent.

The three brothers show different but equally selfish characteristics and are ably aided and abetted by their various wives. The eldest brother (Ranganath) seems to be far removed from the petty squabbles of his siblings and is able to ignore the pleas of his father despite his wife’s more charitable views. The other two brothers are totally ruled by their wives who are wonderfully self-centred and money grabbing. Most of the comedy comes from their antics although veteran comedic actor Allu Ramalingaiah also turns up as a taxi driver who has some humorous dealings with second son and lawyer Narayana Rao (Nutan Prasad). Allu Arvind was the producer for Vijetha and it seems as if he got the whole family involved since his eldest son Bobby is credited as playing the son of Narayana Rao. There seems to be some confusion in some reviews as this film also marks Allu Arjun’s screen debut, but since he was only 2 years old in 1985 I think he actually appears as married sister Shanti’s son. The confusion is likely because of the very stylish sunglasses worn by Bobby below which do seem to be something Bunny would be likely to wear.

The film leans heavily towards family duty and respect but despite these heavy topics it doesn’t drag and keeps a light-hearted tone until near the end. Even then the self-sacrifice of Chinnababu isn’t dwelt on overly much and there is an appropriately happy ending. Director A. Kodandarami Reddy keeps a light touch and stops the film descending into too much sentimentality.  The best parts of the film are the songs by K. Chakravarthy and as ever Chiranjeevi is excellent in a seemingly never ending array of tight lycra outfits. This is my favourite and it seems to serve no other purpose other than letting Chiru strut his stuff – I totally approve!

Although the themes in Vijetha are of duty, responsibility and self-sacrifice, it’s still a fun watch and if nothing else there is the chance to see Chiru in shorts playing football. Some great songs and a very heart-felt performance from Chiranjeevi make it well worth the lack of fast paced action. 3 1/2 stars (it would have been more but Priyadarshini is just too annoying!)

Temple says:

I don’t quite see the opening statement quite the same way Heather did. To me it’s not so much that Chiru is playing a boy next door, as lots of his hero roles are those boys at heart, but he is playing a guy who struggles to assert himself and isn’t really a success at anything despite his potential. I think it is that perceived weakness that Chiru wanted his fans to identify with, and he challenged his detractors who may have thought he was a one trick pony. Mind you, Chinna is heroic in his own way. The short shorts and long socks is a difficult look, especially in yellow which I find is an unforgiving colour, but he manages.

There is some nice social observation tucked in amongst the fluffy filmi fun. This is a family where women have started to work outside the home and their behaviour towards Saraswati is quite masculine in some respects. The father is challenged by his children who have an overwhelming sense of entitlement. Work is hard to come by for the academically average, but class barriers also get in the way – Chinna wasn’t allowed to work as a peon in his brother’s office because it would look bad. Chinna is the product of Saraswati’s intelligent and emotionally supportive upbringing and his father’s strong morality. There is a lot of affection in the family – the father loves Chinna, and had a great time sneaking in to see him play a big match, but the pressure is on to see everyone settled in his lifetime. The question is when do offspring have to take up some family responsibility. It’s similar to, but much less dreary and vomit inducing than, Baghban (one of my most hated films) as the family starts to tear itself apart over money. And nicely symbolic as Chinna and his dad unwittingly compete with each other to save the family finances.

I don’t mind Bhanupriya’s character. Priya is supposed to be a ‘modern’ (i.e. badly dressed, persistent and opportunistic) girl who goes for what she wants. I think her attempts to win Chinna and impress his family are not as funny as they are meant to be, but generally played for laughs and she has good rapport with Chiru. Chinna has the closest relationship with the females in the family, there are lovely scenes as they discuss their hopes and fears together, and Chiranjeevi played Chinna in a natural and low key style. He had a few masala breakouts which I enjoyed immensely, and his flair for comedy is evident. I was so delighted when I recognised the Six O’clock song as I could enjoy it with better dancing (and outfits) and without the accompanying fear of Anil Kapoor from the Hindi version.

As romantic musical sports themed family dramas go, this is one of my favourites. 3 ½ stars.